Oklahoma State University Extension has long been known as a trusted source of research-based information on everything from child nutrition and financial management to pasture management and herd health. Add to that, Extension can help homeowners identify plants they are unfamiliar with.
This can be especially useful for those who have moved into a new home with established gardens. It is useful to know what grows in order to know how to take care of all plants.
Homeowners, gardeners and plant lovers are encouraged to provide a good quality specimen and enough information about the plant to obtain an accurate identification. Poor quality samples or inadequate information can lead to non-identification or even misidentification. Samples can be submitted in two ways: physical samples and/or photographic images.
Follow these steps to submit physical plant samples for identification:
• Small plants. Provide the entire flowering and fruiting plant.
• Larger plants/trees/shrubs. Provide a few stems/twigs with leaves that show the branching pattern, preferably with flowers/fruits.
• Make sure the specimen is not wilted. Collect just before submitting.
• Flatten the sample by placing it between sheets of newspaper (except for the fruit), then sandwich it between two pieces of cardboard and tie it together. Do not stick the sample on the cardboard and do not put the sample in a plastic bag.
• If submitting more than one sample, number them for identification purposes.
• Attach the plant identification form for each sample submitted.
• Photographs to supplement a physical sample may be helpful.
• Please note that plant specimens cannot be returned.
• Send sample to: Plant Identification, 358 Agricultural Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078.
Another option is to email photos of the plant requiring identification. Good, clear images can provide faster identification than submitting physical samples. Follow these tips for submitting good images:
• Photograph the entire plant and site conditions. Indicate where the plant is growing, ie: in the landscape, in the woods, along the road, in a field, in full sun or shade, etc.
• Include close-ups of leaves, stems, buds, bark, fruits and flowers. Don’t get too close as it may blur the photo.
• Provide a ladder. Place a common object, such as a quarter or ruler, next to the specimen to help determine size.
• Send only clear and sharp photos. The higher the resolution, the better.
• Email the images, along with the plant identification form, to [email protected] Put “Plant ID” in the subject line.
David Hillock is a consumer horticulturist with Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension.